At this year's E3 in Los Angeles, publisher TDK Mediactive unveiled its latest PlayStation 2 game, a platform shooter based on the Casper license. The game, however, wasn't intended for the same audience who grew up with the friendly ghost--the dark and twisted Casper Spirit Dimensions is skewed toward an older demographic, and while the game plays a lot like the Spyro series, Spirit Dimensions is more comparable to American McGee's Alice on the PC. We were recently invited to take an updated look at Casper, and we were pleased to note the game's progress since its debut at E3.
As Casper, you'll have to travel across four different worlds and do battle with four boss creatures before finally confronting your archrival, Kibosh. These worlds are huge and are each split up into a number of levels. During our demonstration, we were able to fly around a heavily wooded world with lush jungles and twisting streams, a volcanic world overrun with magma, and a stylized circus world, where Casper will have to confront a clown named Krank, an oversized jack-in-the-box who is relentless in his effort to stop you. During this boss sequence, Krank will pop in and out of his box and fire lasers and machine guns and swing at you with his gigantic hammer. To combat his enemies, Casper will have a range of "weapons" available to him as well. Your default attack is a spirit blast that Casper will fire from either of his hands like an automatic cannon. Dispersed across each level, you'll also find a number of power-ups that will enhance Casper's spirit blast by giving it one of several unique characteristics, such as a fire attack, an ice attack, a charge-up blast, a homing attack, and an attack that doubles the strength of his standard spirit blast. Casper isn't all offense, though. Being a ghost, he has the natural defensive ability of, well, being a ghost--he can penetrate most grated walls and items, and he can become invincible (and nearly invisible) for a brief amount of time to avoid getting hurt from an unavoidable attack.
Throughout the game, you'll have to make use of all of Casper's offensive and defensive skills in to survive. To illustrate this point, TDK Mediactive showed us Casper take on a four-headed dragon that has made the bottom of a volcano his home. This dragon is tricky to defeat: Each of its four heads is vulnerable to only a specific power-up and is immune to all the rest. You'll have to constantly cycle through your power-ups as different dragon heads come up to meet you. The game itself is a combination of pickup puzzles, navigation quests, and timed challenges. Controlling Casper is simple enough--like most first- or third-person games, the left analog stick controls your direction (look up, down, left, and right) while the right stick controls your movement.
TDK Mediactive says that developer Lucky Chicken is extremely pleased to be working with the Casper license, and from what we've seen of the game, it's obvious that the developer is adding enough dark and brooding material to keep Casper Spirit Dimensions appealing to more hard-core players. The game is scheduled for release this October for the PlayStation 2.